In our last article, we dove into the deepest corners of the electronic music production to lay down the “Best VST Plugins For FL Studio” . Now, fully stacked, we will reveal “5 Beginner Mixing Tips” for FL Studio 12 producers to further extend your talent and passion.
Regardless our focus on Hip Hop production, these tips can help anyone working with FL. But we did put the emphasize on beginner level users, so if you`re already over this, this may not be your cup of tea. Either way, it can be a good reminder of some basic steps of mixing. For all the other newbies, this can be useful, to make you start much easier and advance faster. Do remember that practice is everything.
On that note, here are “5 Beginner Mixing Tips (Fl Studio 12)” essential for any mixing session.
5 Beginner Mixing Tips
FL Studio 12
Ready for the tips? Start your machines, open FL Studio and let`s step into the basic school of Mixing. Before we start steppin`, make sure all your audio settings are tuned right, so everything runs well. This is so important, especially when working with massive third party plugins.
Take as much load of your CPU as you can by turning on all the needing buttons. And also turning off all of the unnecessary options. Here is a useful guide from Image-Line creators for setting your audio parameters. Details are everything.
And another crucial thing to cover before you start any type of mixing and mastering, is treating your room right. It doesn`t have to be anything fancy, because your beginner ears will take time (a looooots of it) to train themselves to “read” the frequencies. But you do need to cover the “hot spots”, like “first reflections” and your room`s corners.
Now, let`s begin.
Beginner Mixing Tip 1 – Turn Off The Limiter In The Master Channel
No.1 of the top 5 beginner mixing tips has to do with some default settings. FL Studio has an automatic template set when you first open a DAW. And besides some basic drum samples in the channel rack, it also has the Fruity Limiter activated on the master channel.
For those of you not familiar with it yet, this can be a huge problem, since the limiter will enhance the overall sound of your project. So when mixing, you won`t get the original loudness levels on the main meter. Make sure you turn that off. Or just pick a new template where you can start from scratch.
Beginner Mixing Tip 2 – Gain Staging
Number two deals with output levels. First of, gain staging in the digital world of DAWs is nothing but adjusting the levels of your instruments in a series of steps to make sure you`re not clipping. Clipping means exceeding the -0 db of digital level, after which the signal gets distorted.
What are the steps through this? Before you even touch the fader levels on your mixer, do bare in mind that you have two more Volume controls to go through. First, the one on your plugin/sample menu. The second on the channel rack.
EXTRA TIP: The VST Plugins Volume can be set all the way to 100%, but keep the Sample Volume at default 80%.
When reached the mixer doing gain staging, I usually start mixing from -10db. But anything in between -10 and -18 is safe. To secure your safety, it`s recommended to keep some sort of metering plugin to help with the visual mapping the levels. One of the good plugins FL offers is Wave Candy.
Lastly, just keep your eyes on the master meter. Your individual channel mixer meters are important, but they must not be taken as a main output meter guideliners. 🙂
Beginner Mixing Tip 3 – Leveling
Next sort of level adjustment that is inevitable within our 5 beginner mixing tips, is leveling. Leveling out the game between individual instruments is first big challenging step in mixing audio.
Now in most modern-day electronic music, the low end, specifically the kick plays a lead role in 90% of the projects. Therefore, the leveling starts and gets shaped up around this element. After you are satisfied with the kick level, you start mixing it with other low-end elements, like bass-guitars and synth basses, sub-basses etc.
EXTRA TIP: I mix my kicks around -10, basses between -18 and -12 (but of course every sound is specific, so use your ears and taste). Also keep the high-end percussion at approximately the same level as the kick.
After you make room for the mids or mid-range frequencies like vocals, and synth leads, you start bringing their faders up respectfully. Use EQ`s to bring up the desired or cut of the unwanted frequencies. And always go back to your main meter to make sure you`re not exceeding the “safe levels” output space.
Go to the loudest part of the project track and test the dynamics.
Your master output level of a finished mixdown project should peak at maximum -6db. In other words, that`s how much of a headroom you should leave for the mastering.
BONUS TRICK: Make difference between two or more sounds “complementing” each other and “supporting” one another. (In the kick and high-end percs above, hi-hats are supporting the kick on the same level).
Beginner Mixing Tip 4 – Use High Quality Sounds Only
This is seemingly not so much big of a deal to take upon, but picking the high quality sounds, whether from the plugin or the sound sample, is a huge thing to remember.
And one of the maybe most important steps in 5 Beginner Mixing Tips. If your main sound source is weak, it takes much more time to tweak all the parameters to make it sound better. And it`s big enough problem within the experienced producers, let alone yourself as a starter.
A good sound from the origin is easier to understand, mix, compress and everything in between. So don`t get cheap here. Invest in your sound library like you do in every other aspect of your producer career.
Beginner Mixing Tip 5 – Main Mixing Tools
The last step out of our 5 Beginner Mixing Tips is a set of most used mixing tools. The two basic ones are:
Equalizers can have two basic roles:
- additive (adding to the sound timbre by boosting somewhere in the frequency spectrum)
- subtractive (cutting out the frequencies to make an instrument sound better)
And compression can be used in five different ways:
- Multiband Compression/Limiting
- Brickwall limiting
- Sidechain or Ducking
- Parallel Compression
The rest of the mixing tools to finish of our top 5 beginner mixing tips list are the effect tools.
Most used ones are:
Take Your Knowledge To The Next Level
For the end, we are laying out some of the best places to upgrade your audio producer knowledge. From video tutorials to a full production courses, some of the best online tutors will help speed up the learning process.
My personal best choices are:
- “Musician On A Mission” with Rob Mayzes
- “Behind The Speakers” with Jason Moss
- “Busy Works Beats” with Game
- “Recording Revolution” with Graham Cochrane
And that should cover our topic today. These were your ultimate “5 Beginner Mixing Tips” and if you missed my previous one, about “Best VST Plugins For FL Studio” now is your chance to take all in.
Practice makes everything better. Keep hustling and keep your persistence and patience in one pocket. Write to you soon!